Miguel-Adorn Video

There was a version of this included on his Art Dealer Chic Vol. 1, and being many fans’ favourite track from the entire series, it made it onto the very recent Kaleidoscope Dream: Water Preview EP, and hence will feature on his upcoming Kaleidoscope Dream LP.

Still with me? Good. This is the finished version of the ADC Vol. 1 track for those who haven’t heard that most recent EP yet, and it’s a great effort that really stands out in the sea of mediocrity that is the current R&B scene. It’s slow, sexy and packed with boatloads of cool, courtesy of a sultry production and excellent vocals from Miguel from start to finish.

The video complements the audio nicely, keeping the mood dark and unpredictable, whilst thematically focusing on duality throughout: there’s Miguel’s slick smart threads up against his rougher street wear, the mysterious masked woman being a polar opposite to the cheerleaders, and the confines of a small rooms and tight corridors versus the freedom of the outdoors where Miguel waits by his car. Worth a watch, definitely worth a listen, and be sure to hunt down that EP.

Rick Ross – 3 Kings ft. Dr. Dre and Jay-Z Video

For a video primarily made up of archival footage, this is actually a half-decent effort for what remains a disappointing track given the calibre of the features.

Dre’s verse features plenty of footage from throughout his career, as far back as you can imagine and as present as some previously unseen interactions with Ross, whilst Ross’ clips are similar though understandably span a much shorter time period. Jay’s clips are probably the highlight (mirroring the audio), using both the contextual and archival footage much better in terms of highighting Jay’s various punchlines and wordplay, and undoubtedly it solidifies his status as the real star of the track. It’s something a little different in terms of video style, and certainly adds a layer of grandeur to the track, though once again its not enough to rescue it from really being all about that last verse.

On a side note, if like myself you wondered why Diddy was giving Ross/this album so much love on Twitter recently, the last 10 seconds of this video should explain that well enough…shameless.

Hit-Boy-Old School Caddy ft. Kid Cudi


After the overwhelmingly positive reaction to the N***** In Paris producer’s debut rap single, Jay-Z Interview, Hit-Boy comes through with the follow-up and grabs the recently-reclusive Kid Cudi for an assist.

The aforementioned single drew plenty of comparisons with an early Kanye West, both for the transition from rapper to producer to rapper/producer, and for the Hit’s rapping style throughout. This should set him apart a little more however, as Hit’s flow is much more compact and pacey, displaying a surprising level of skill throughout. The raps themselves are decent enough throughout, working well with the speedy yet contemplative production, though they’d benefit from a little more emotion. Cudi does a great job with his cameo, bringing a high-paced verse of his own that’s got a couple of nice repeatables and rides along well with the production. Another good track from Hit-Boy, and let’s hope he keeps this form up.

Bramzwig-Newer York Mixtape


This is the 2nd mixtape from Bramzwig in 2012, following “The Roaring Twenty.” As Bramzwig rhythmically maneuvers his way through the 11 tracks on this mixtape, the title “Newer York” starts to make sense.

We’ve caught one or two tracks from the upcoming Bramzwig in recent weeks and he follows those releases up with a brand new project for the new fans he’s accumulated. It’s pretty much put up or shut up time for Bramzwig, and I’m sure he’ll deliver the goods to keep that bandwagon rolling on for the second half of the year. Free stream and download available below.

Bramzwig-Newer York

Nina Sky-Heartbeat Video

One of the few decent pop efforts to have been released in recent months, coming from the duo who’ve sporadically released material in recent years and finally drop off their sophomore album tomorrow.

It’s undeniably a song heavily anchored around the hook, and rightfully so in this case as the girls have nailed down a simple and incredibly catchy hook, combining an electro-infused production with airy, atmospheric vocal work for a nice blend of styles. That’s probably a good description of the rest of the track too, as it seems to continually hover that line between club track and chillout and when done correctly as it is here, the combination is usually an effective one.

The visual sticks more with the style of the hook for the verses, with smoky images and a dark filter on the screen adding a little mystery and intrigue, before throwing in scenes of folk dancing in slow-mo to add some more energy to the hook, and ending the video with fireworks and general positive vibes. A good track that could very well be their route back to mainstream success, and look out for that album tomorrow to grab this song.

The Killers-Runaways Video

I was relatively sold on the track upon its release, and though admittedly I’d hoped it would be a little more memorable than it was, the effective simplicity of the video helps it stick to the brain.

It’s little more than a performance video, focusing heavily on the band’s empassioned work in performing the track, a style that’s simple yet so rarely done nowadays in favour of ‘artistic expressionism’. It allows the band to inject plenty of feeling and emotion into the single, and hence immediately makes the track more memorable as a result. That’s not to say there isn’t much else going on, as the band are helped out by plenty of blocks of colour that are all the more vivid given the dark backdrop that envelops most of the video, whilst the occasional burst of scenery (often of roads, which adds to the ‘driving’ nature of the instrumentation) also adds a little diversity.

A surprisingly likeable video given how stripped back it is, and one that helps the audio out. Not available on iTunes UK yet, but if you’ve got access you can pick it up from iTunes US now.

Bloc Party-Day Four


The latest release from Bloc Party’s Four album, due in exactly 3 weeks on 20th August, and this is one that’s really got me excited for that album.

Stylistically, it’s very close to their work on A Weekend In The City, with a more hushed, almost melancholy approach that puts much more emphasis on melody than instrumentation. There’s still enough about the track to keep it engaging for those requiring more ‘obvious’ entertainment, with the heavy guitar plucks and diverse vocal work combining to add a little intensity and vibrancy to the track, building to a strong finish that increases the energy without veering too far away from the slightly downbeat mood. A great listen, and let’s hope there’s more of this to come on the album.

The xx - Angels (The Confect Remix)


A truly excellent example of remix for you here. The xx’s single is a wonderfully tender effort, and this remix adds a selection of delicate touches to make the track a little sharper without losing the original’s lightness.

The key addition is the percussion, giving the track a rigidity and structure not found in the original, and though that’s intentional for the style The xx were going for, you can’t help but find that its inclusion here makes the track a much easier listen (before you jump at me, I didn’t say ‘better’). The further subtle additions, from increasing the prominence of the main melody to the effects on the vocals are all in keeping with the existing soundscape, and this is a thoroughly superb remix that stands up well alongside the original. EDIT: If you’re after a download link, The Confectionary have kindly made one available here.

Jay Electronica-Act 2: Patents Of Nobility (The Turn) Tracklist


No, there hasn’t been a mistake. It’s actually happening. Jay Elect took to Twitter to reveal the official tracklisting for his hotly-anticipated and almost mythical album, and there’s plenty to look forward to. Features include Jay-Z, Kanye West, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Diddy and more, whilst some of the track titles rumoured to be on the LP appear to have made it, including what I assume to be a finished version of 2010′s feature-heavy Shiny Suit Theory. You can view the tracklist in full below.

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Nipsey Hu$$le-They Know Video

This isn’t one where the video particularly warrants much attention of its own, but it’s a great opportunity to give some shine to both a good track and a great series of mixtapes, The Marathon and The Marathon Continues, from Nipsey.

The audio combines a thumping bass with slowed down melodies in the verses, packing in plenty of punch before upping the energy levels with some decent synth work on the hook, which serves as a great anchor for the track that’ll have you cranking the volume up. Nipsey’s one of the more underrated rappers in the game as far as I’m concerned, and this track is a good display of what he’s able to do, with quick, watertight flows throughout the track making the most of a nice range of topics in the lyricism.

It’s a good all-round hip-hop track that should get some heads nodding, and others turning to pay more attention to Nipsey. As mentioned, the video isn’t one that embellishes the audio, but hopefully will result in more of the hip-hop heads giving Nipsey more minutes in their rotations. Grab this, and more, over at Nipsey’s house.

Miguel-Kaleidoscope Dream: Water Preview EP


Miguel’s gearing up to release his sophomore album, Kaleidoscope Dreams, and after the success of his Art Dealer Chic series of EPs earlier this year, he’s following its release style by putting the project out in three parts.

This marks the first instalment, with Kaleidoscope Dream: Air Preview due on 11 September, before Miguel drops off the full-length Kaleiodscope Dreams on 3 October, combining the 2 preview EPs with some brand new material. It’s a unique approach and if it (literally) pays off, expect many artists to follow suit.

You can stream the EP below over at Spin, and be sure to grab it on iTunes when it lands on Tuesday.

Miguel-Kaleidoscope Dream: Water Preview EP

A$AP Mob-Bath Salt ft. Flatbush Zombies


A$AP Rocky and the rest of the team are gearing up to release their debut album as a collective and they’ve reeled in Flatbush Zombies, who released their own heavily buzzed-about project this week, for the first single from the LP.

It’s A$AP Rocky and A$AP Ant on duty for the mob here, combining well with Meech and Juice for a good hip-hop effort. The production veers between haunting and bouncy, throwing a slow pace and ominous synths in with a couple of instrumental blasts that perk the beat up each time they’re brought back in, whilst the raps from the quartet take the production on well with generally tight, slick flows and a nice mix of aggression and laidback styles from each rapper. Good effort that’s a little ‘harder’ than many would have expected, which bodes well for the full album.

J. Cole-The Cure


We haven’t had any solo material from Cole since the two isolated drops in late Feb/early March of this year, and he’s back on the scene with some raps over a remixed (and frankly, improved) version of The Throne’s Lift Off.

There’s a little hunger back in Cole’s voice here, with his raps opening on the arrogant, ‘I’ve made it’ tip before transitioning into some retrospective ‘come-up’ rhymes, and going back and forth for the rest of the track. The key here is his work on the production, which slows down and dilutes the overly-positive style of the original Lift Off and makes it significantly more tolerable as a result. A solid comeback for Cole, and let’s see if he can keep up some momentum for the rest of the summer.

Jhene Aiko-For My Brother


I wrote and recorded this myself on my laptop, for my brother… Miyagi. this song was really just intended for him to hear…but i thought it would be nice to share…i was so nervous to play it for him myself, so when i left to San Francisco on Thursday I had my TT play it for him…She said his breath got calm as he listened and i know he heard every word.

Firstly, Jhene Aiko lost her brother late last week, and of course our condolences go out to Jhene and her family. This song was penned for her late brother prior to his passing, and the short anecdote above really adds a touching context to this track, one which is already packed with a tenderness and emotion that makes it a great listen anyway. I’ll not disrespect this incredibly personal track by getting into the usual details of production etc., and instead I’ll say this is one we can all find a common bond with and should definitely be heard.

Jhene Aiko-For My Brother

Fabolous-Dope Bitch Remix


Fabolous is legendary for his destruction of R&B productions, whether its on features or on the radio singles he’s put out previously, and he’s back doing what he knows best here with a remix of The-Dream’s excellent new single.

Fab strips out almost all of the vocal content for this rework, leaving in Dream’s hook and outro to support his verses. Loso delivers with the replacement work though, bringing his ever-confident, ever-clever raps to the table and throwing out plenty of witty punchlines thrown into a steady, solid flow that rides on the production well. A decent remix that makes for a nice complement and alternative to the original.

Slaughterhouse-Weight Scale (Nasty Freestyle)


A double dose of good news, as not only have we got some new Slaughterhouse but the track is taken from an upcoming mixtape, set to be released before their album is on 28th August. Logical timing suggests that’ll drop early August, meaning we’re in for weeks of listening to Slaughterhouse tear down others’ beats before their own album drops. Awesome.

Crooked I dropped his own freestyle on this beat last year, and the other SH members have their turn with a great set of verses that really revitalises this production. Royce opens up, delivering some slick raps packaged into a high-paced flow before Crook steps in for round 2 with Nasty, bringing his own rapid fire style with a healthy dose of aggression. Joell comes in at 3rd with, you guessed it, another speedy set of raps before Budden does the same but with his typically cool, laidback gloss smothered on top. An excellent remix of the track, and four verses that would each be the highlight of any other track they were placed on.

Raekwon-Keep It Politics


“Keep It Politics” is the new single and documentary from Closed Sessions Vol. 2 released by Chicago indie label Closed Sessions. The album and documentary series is presented by rubyhornet.com, MTV2 Sucker Free, and SoundScape Studios.

Rae hooks up with DJ Babu for a decent hip-hop jam here, dropping off his first bit of solo material in a while. Babu throws in heavy bass with a playful, nursery rhyme-esque melody to tread that line between intensity and lightness, though it does feel like its missing one more element, something a less blunted percussion may have fixed. Rae’s raps are as listenable as ever, blending aggressive and arrogant raps into a relaxed flow that works the production style well. Solid if unspectacular track all-round.

Lloyd Banks-V6: The Gift Mixtape


Few rappers saw their stock rise more across 2010 and 2011 than Lloyd Banks, and though his 2012 has been a little quieter, he’s back in the limelight with his latest mixtape release.

If his aforementioned form of recent years is any indicator, this should be a very enjoyable hip-hop project, both for Banks’ raps and from a production standpoint, and though the list of producers isn’t instantly recognisable, Lloyd’s ear for a beat somewhat eases any fears about the production quality. The features are more eye-catching, with ScHoolboy Q, Jadakiss and Fabolous among the contributors, giving listeners even more to look forward to. Can’t wait to give this a go, and the free grab is below.

Lloyd Banks-V6: The Gift

Childish Gambino-Fire Fly Video

Last year’s Camp release gets a new video release, though this one’s definitely unexpected given both the slightly different direction Gambino’s music has gone in recent months, and the fact the album was released quite some time ago.

It’s actually surprisingly dark and unusual at times, with the visuals ranging from quite violent scenes to bizarre mind control-esque devices, some kind of time or dimension-travel machine and more. It’s built quite progressively, as the video starts fairly normally (with the exception of the lead character glancing up at what looks like a very nearby planet), before moving into a sci-fi, parallel universe angle which doesn’t match up with the style and vibe of the audio at all. Hence, it’s an almost disorienting watch at times and doesn’t quite sit right, not least because the last minute seems to try to pack so much in. As individual entities, the audio is great and the video would be fine set to an M83 track (or similar), and whilst I’m all for attempting audio-to-video style contrasting, to me this doesn’t come off as a package.

Snoop Lion (Dogg)-La La La


This guy will try anything. He’s now changed his name to Snoop Lion (temporarily at least) as part of a reggae side project he plans to drop off at some point this year.

He’s recruited the ubiquitous Diplo (under the Major Lazer guise) for the production, a pretty textbook old school reggae affair with plenty of cool and a relaxing quality which is difficult to dislike. With that said, Snoop’s West Indian accent is a pretty strange listen and its almost difficult to take it seriously at times, although at others it does seem to work well enough, in particular the duet vocals on the hook are listenable enough. Let’s see what else comes of this, and who knows-maybe hearing more will make it a little more believable as music.

Mickey Factz-Black Tearz Part Two


Whilst it’s always great to get new music from Mickey, particularly after the brilliant Mickey MauSe project, this is a little confusing. Why? Because a track with the same name was released around 18 months ago, but I’m quite sure it isn’t the same track. Nonetheless, let’s enjoy it anyway.

The production is lively and diverse, combining keys, spiky guitars and some head-nodding percussion for an alternative-inspired beat with a hip-hop twist. Mickey’s raps are generally strong, and whilst a couple of the rhymes are a little easier than we’ve come to expect from Factz, it’s more about the superb storytelling dynamic of the songwriting, a style that Mickey’s certainly one of the best at using. The vocals on the hook are harmonic enough to give the song a nice cool down period from the intense verse, and this is a good hip-hop track that hopefully spells the return of more frequent material from Factz.

Wiz Khalifa-Far From Coach ft. Game and Stat Quo


Wiz has been churning out material relatively regularly in recent months, and here he grabs Game and Stat (who I’ve not heard from in forever) for another solid jam.

The production is as laidback as you’d expect from a Wiz track, with an easygoing percussion, airy synths and a general air of opulence. There’s still a little punch going on in there too, thanks to a hefty dose of bass, and hence it makes for a good summer day listen, a vibe that Wiz capitalises on with a smooth, arrogant hook that will keep heads nodding. The verses are nice and diverse, with Game bringing a more intense delivery than expected, whilst Wiz’s voice also has plenty of verve on his section, and Stat closes things out with what’s probably the best verse of the track thanks to a diverse lyrical set alongside a relaxed delivery. Decent all-rounder, which you can grab for free courtesy of Wiz’s Twitter.

Wiz Khalifa-Far From Coach ft. Game and Stat Quo

Rick Ross-3 Kings ft. Dr. Dre and Jay-Z


Easily the most anticipated track from Rick Ross’ upcoming God Forgives, I Don’t album (which seems to be lacking any sort of lead single), with one of the biggest lineups of the year.

Considering the talent involved, this is disappointing. The production lacks any real urgency and instead sticks to Rick Ross’ perennial backup choice of a slowed-down, faux-regal style, if option A of an ominous Luger-esque beat isn’t available. It was great back in 2009, but now is every bit as repetitive as option A, and featured guests of this magnitude should surely be looking for something more unique and impactful. Dre’s contribution (which must be written by Ross) is OK enough, though the highlight of the track is certainly Jay’s closing verse, with plenty of nice reference points (including his daughter and the Brooklyn Nets) making for a more striking verse than the others. It’s not enough to recover the track though, and this should have been much more than it was.

Tyler, The Creator and Toro Y Moi-Hey You


Producer Toro has previously remixed some of Tyler’s works, and the Odd Future gang let their official coming together loose, an unfinished track from the vaults.

It’s a summery effort, with a perky, upbeat production that packs in hip-hop drums, synths with more lightness than hotel lobby music, and some scratched up samples for an excellent production. It’s laidback enough to work in a relaxing capacity, but with enough punch to ensure you don’t get bored listening to it, and whilst at times the beat’s structure seems to break down a little, that’s easily chalked up to the unfinished nature of the track. Tyler’s monotone delivery is decent enough here, and though his complete lack of emotion doesn’t quite utilise the beat in the best way, it’s the uniqueness of his approach that makes for an entertaining listen. Pretty solid track all-round, and it’s a shame it probably won’t get finished.

Stalley-Hammers and Vogues ft. Curren$y Video

Stalley’s Savage Journey to the American Dream is easily one of my favourite mixtapes of the year thus far, and this effort with Curren$y definitely stood out as one of the best tracks from the tape, getting plenty of love in my rotation to this day.

The track is laidback and a supremely easy listen, with a smoothed-out production allowing Stalley to send out some frank and humble raps, making for a first verse that synergises wonderfully with the production, and a closing verse that adds a little more arrogance to finish on a high. Curren$y’s relaxed style is a perfect fit for this summery production too, and hence his verse blends into the track seamlessly.

The video is everything you’d expect given the style of the audio: warm summertime footage, nothing too frantic with Stalley pretty much just sitting down, and whilst Curren$y is a little more vertical for his verse, his natural demeanour keeps that lazy-day vibe of the audio going. It’s a great audiovisual that has no illusions of grandeur-just some chillout hip-hop made for a summer’s day. Grab this on the aforementioned Stalley mixtape now.

Bloc Party-Octopus (RAC Remix)


No, not the breakdown cover company.

RAC’s done an interesting job with the production here. Almost entirely stripping out the guitars and swapping the percussion for a softer track, it’s taken much of the sharp, jagged qualities out of the track and replaced it with an accessible sheen that makes for pretty solid listening. The synths and funky melodies that substitute for the guitars on the verse and hook are enough to make this a potential dance favourite, though the excellence here is in the vocal sampling: Kele’s vocals got a little drowned in the crashing instrumentation of the original, and here their catchiness is given much more exposure, with the snippets used blending well with the production’s movements. Good remix that will find some fans in the mainstream audience.

MellowHype-La Bonita


OFWGKTA had a pretty big day yesterday, dropping off two new tracks, revealing dates for their next tour and announcing some release dates for upcoming projects. Among those was the upcoming MellowHype album, Numbers, which many have been anticipating ever since Hodgy’s performance of 65 on the BBC last year.

Having recently dropped FAKUOY, this marks their second release in quick succession. There’s a much more upbeat, summer vibe about this one, drawing on a cacophony of instruments for a reggae-influenced production, whilst Hodgy’s raps are once again quite departed from the ‘typical OF’ style and instead have a much more mainstream style. It’s only a short one, but certainly something a little different from the clan and a quick, easy listen to throw onto a summer playlist.

ANTHM-Amen Freestyle


Freestyle probably doesn’t do this one a whole lot of justice, as ANTHM’s grabbed the track and fully reworked the vocals, hook and all. He’s become one of my favourite upcoming rappers in the game in recent weeks (thanks to the excellent Joy & Pain EP, and the When We Were Kings mixtape), and this is another to add to his impressive catalogue.

The raps are in keeping with the uplifting, positive style of the production for the most part, ensuring his remix stays relatively true to the plus points of the original, whilst the slick flow and clever wordplay adds ANTHM’s own touch to the track. Redoing the hook was a great move to really stamp his authority on the production, and this is a remix that’s definitely worth grabbing if you enjoyed the original.

JoJo-Demonstrate


Her remix of Drake’s Marvin’s Room a little over a year ago was a widespread success, and now she’s snagged the track’s producer, Drake’s running buddy Noah ’40′ Shebib, for an original track of her own.

The maturity in her style is evident from the off, with a more sultry delivery that suits the soft production really well. There’s no doubt that this is targeted at those looking for a bit of bedroom music, and 40′s created a suitable atmosphere for it with his typically haunting, atmospheric melodies, sparse and well-utilised percussion and a slow tempo to pack it all into. JoJo delivers with the vocals, capping her emotional delivery at the right point to ensure she doesn’t break the mood of the track, and this is a solid all-round R&B jam that’s worth a listen. Currently slated to hit iTunes at the end of August.